Arniston, Cape Agulhas

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Arniston, Cape Agulhas

Arniston
Arniston, Cape Agulhas

Once you've booked your accommodation in Arniston, explore our pages for info on attractions and what to do in Arniston.

Lying on the shores of Marcus Bay, just north-east of Cape Agulhas, is the tranquil little fishing village of Arniston, also known as Waenhuiskrans - ‘wagon shelter cliff’ - after a large low-tide sea cave, eroded in such a way as to resemble the structures used by settlers to house their oxen and wagons.

The name ‘Arniston’ comes from one of the numerous ship wrecks on the area’s jagged coastline. The Arniston sank here in 1815 after the ship, already laden with wounded soldiers on the way from Ceylon to England via Cape Town, decided to cut away its three anchors and run ashore due to heavy winds having destroyed its sails. It broke up on the sharp rocks of the Arniston Reef and only 6 of the original 378 passengers lived to tell of the disaster - one of the worst in South Africa’s history. But the village of Arniston has dispelled its origin of doom, and delights visitors today with its craggy cliffs and the quaint, whitewashed, thatched fishermen’s cottages of Kassiebaai, more than two centuries old and a national monument in its entirety.

Artists and photographers in particular are attracted to Arniston because of its picturesque prettiness, and whilst the cliffs may be dangerous, the rolling sand dunes, golden beaches and intense blue of the sea make Arniston one of the best-kept secrets along the Overberg coast. The coastline is an invitation to long walks and has many examples of spectacular sea erosion with numerous displays of caverns and arches. The coastline is peppered with examples of prehistoric fish traps of the Khoisan strandlopers (beach walkers) who submerged these stone-built enclosures at high tide in a bid to catch fish. Piles of fish bones and shells are all that remain of this vanished people.

African black oystercatcher
Arniston is flanked by two nature reserves - the De Hoop and De Mond Nature Reserves. De Hoop Nature Reserve conserves a major wetland and is home to almost 100 aquatic bird species and of international importance for migratory birds. In fact the entire coast is a marine reserve, one of the biggest in Africa, and the rare African Black Oyster Catcher, the Southern Right Whale and at least 250 species of fish are protected.

De Mond Nature Reserve lies at the mouth of the Heuningnes River, between Arniston and Struisbaai and tends to be regarded as a satellite of the De Hoop Nature Reserve. It supports a number of small mammals, such as grysbok, steenbok and grey duiker as well as the rather illusive caracal. De Mond is ideal for birdwatching and the reserve is particularly important for the protection of the threatened Damara, South Africa’s most endangered coastal bird.

Additional reading
For a first hand review of this delightful seaside resort town, see our article at "Arniston, respite for the soul on the shores of the Overberg" and for more details of the hike to Waenhuiskrans Cave, see "Wading out to Waenhuiskrans Cave - All its cut out to be".

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Arniston Reviews

average visitor rating: 5/5"The most amazing holiday town. We loved the peace and quiet in Arniston. If you go then visit the De Mond Nature Reserve - beautiful! We did lots of fishing ..." - Cheryl, Dublin

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Featured Attractions in (or near) Arniston

Agulhas National Park

Lying in what is known as the Agulhas Plain at the southernmost tip of Africa is the Agulhas National Park, just 45 kilometres from the popular village of Gansbaai. This might be the meeting place of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, but the Agulhas National park’s focus is on some of the most splendid ... more information

Cape Agulhas Wine Estates

The official wine route of Cape Agulhas transports tourists to a charming part of the country and includes the area of Montagu. Although this is a relatively new wine route, its close proximity to other, better-established routes (such as the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley) is mutually beneficial. This ... more information

Cape Agulhas Wine Route

Elim is something of a phenomenon as its unique ‘terroir’ has caused much excitement in the wine community worldwide. The cool and strong winds that prevail - south westerly and south easterly - have the effect of providing a very cool ripening season, perfect for Sauvignon Blanc and promising for ... more information

De Hoop Nature Reserve

The De Hoop Nature Reserve is approximately 34 000 ha in size and one of the largest natural areas managed by Cape Nature Conservation. It is a favourite destination for hikers, cyclists, bird watchers and during the winter and early summer months, whale watchers. The entire length of the De Hoop coast is ... more information

De Mond Nature Reserve

As its name suggests De Mond Nature Reserve lies at a river mouth – the Heuningnes River - in the curve of a natural bay, almost halfway between the coastal towns of Arniston and Struis Bay. The De Mond estuary has remained relatively undisturbed and unaffected by development, enough ... more information

Heuningberg Nature Reserve

If you are in pursuit of the Bredasdorp Lily then a trip to the Heuningberg Nature Reserve, set on the slopes of Heuningberg (Honey Mountain) south east of Bredasdorp, is a good place to start, particularly as the core of the reserve started its life as a wildflower garden. Today the over 800 hectare nature reserve ... more information

Rasperpunt Hiking Trail

More commonly known as the Agulhas walking trail, because it takes place within the Agulhas National Park, the Rasperpunt hike begins just west of the famous Agulhas lighhouse - the reason so many visitors come to L'Agulhas in the first place. Actually the Rasperpunt Hiking Trail is a circular trail that ... more information

Spookdraai Hiking Trail

There is no secret behind the name of this hiking trail at Cape Agulhas. There have been so many shipwrecks along this coastline that even if you do not believe in ghosts (spook) you would have to at least acknowledge the possibility that a fair number of discontented souls may well continue to ... more information

The Whale Trail

The Whale Trail is not a new trail, having been around since about 2002, but it has become extremely popular. Nonetheless, the five-day Whale Hiking trail must be one of South Africa’s greatest selling points. It is truly a unique experience, perhaps comparable with the likes of the Otter Trail that rates as one of the ... more information

Tip of Africa Route

Based on the Overberg Tourism map, the Tip of Africa Route starts in Cape Town, where you take the N2 via Grabouw and Caledon to the pretty town of Napier (make sure to stop off at the Napier Farmstall en route), after which you have a couple of choices - Option One: You can take the R316 to ... more information

Waenhuiskrans Cave

Waenhuiskrans (wagon house cliff) is the highlight of a visit to Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve in Arniston. What makes the Waenhuiskrans Cave so exciting is the low-tide leap-and-a-bit to reach it, over barnacle-encrusted rocks with one's eye on the sea for the odd freak wave ... more information

Waenhuiskrans Nature Reserve

Formerly known as Waenhuiskrans until a ship by the name of Arniston was wrecked here, the village is a much sought after holiday residence because of its sea views and stands on a hill overlooking the harbour, approximately 190 kilometres from Cape Town and close enough to Cape Agulhas to claim a share as ... more information

Whale Watching in Cape Agulhas

The most southern tip of Africa is monopolised by the three towns of L'Agulhas, its neighbour Struisbaai, and on the other side of the bay, Arniston or Waenhuiskrans. Cape Agulhas may not be as beautiful as the Cape Peninsula, nor boast quite the land-based whale watching of Hermanus, Walker Bay or ... more information

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Things To Do in Arniston

Ginkgo Spa at Arniston Hotel

Where: Arniston
How much (per person): On Request

This is an exclusive venue and is operated by the renowned Ginkgo Spa & Wellness Group. Calm your mind in this relaxation spa and let us pam ... more information

Sterna Hiking Trail

Where: Arniston
How much (per person): On Request

The Sterna Hiking Trail invites visitors to enjoy the unspoilt beauty of Arniston in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The trail it ... more information

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Restaurants in Arniston

Arniston Hotel Restaurant

Where: Arniston

The Arniston Spa Hotel's trademark is its selection of local sea fare. Our chef gets his inspiration from the world's largest larder, the sea, and begins his day at the fishing boats. Here the morning ... more information

Willeen’s Arts and Crafts Restaurant

Where: Arniston

Overlooking the beach in Kassiesbaai you'll find this unique and charming eatery / craft shop. Willeen’s started as a shop, offering craftworks and local delicacies but due to demand, the internal wal ... more information

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Arniston, respite for the soul on the shores of the Overberg

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